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Timberkits

Timberkit Pianist

For each of the past few Christmases, I have been given a Timberkit to construct. They are rather fun moving models, all made from wood, which you assemble yourself. Last year I made a model of Stephenson’s “Rocket” and the previous year was a drummer with a full drum-kit. All the parts are pre-cut and drilled, and the kit comes with a very comprehensive set of instructions. This year’s kit is “The Pianist” – when you turn the handle, the piano keys move up and down, as do the pianist’s fingers, his foot moves and he sways backwards and forwards in time with the music. At least, that’s the idea!

The kit allegedly comes complete with everything needed to build it, i.e. a square inch (literally) of fine sandpaper for smoothing the surfaces, a small tube of PVA glue and a small wax candle for lubricating the moving surfaces. I’ve found found from previous years that is a hopeless under-estimate of what is actually needed, and this one is no different in that respect. I’ve raided the kitchen drawers for clothes pegs to use as vices to hold pieces together while the glue dries, and have rummaged through Christopher’s tool box for more sandpaper in different grades, a pen-knife, drill and bits, and needle-nosed plyers.

The kit also takes a surprisingly long time to build, and really needs a long weekend put aside to do it. Not because the actual time spent assembling the kit is that long, but because you have to do it in a set order, and leave time for the glue to dry on one stage before you move onto the next. I got that wrong last year – I was too impatient when building The Rocket that I didn’t wait for the glue to set firmly enough before I carried on with the assembly, some of the parts got knocked slightly out of alignment, and then I exceeded the tolerances of the mechanical movement and couldn’t get the wheels to turn smoothly. So this year I’m taking things much more slowly and incrementally. Basically that means that my dining room table has been out of commission for the entire Bank Holiday weekend. It keeps me busy though, which has to be a good thing – especially as the weather is still far too cold and snowy to do anything much out doors.